pronunciation of Sanskrit

Adi Hastings amhastin at
Thu Apr 10 21:31:55 UTC 1997

On Thu, 10 Apr 1997, Mr B.Philip.Jonsson [Seeker of Useless Knowledge]
wrote:  > > Pleasant to hear; I for one would love to be able to write and
converse in > Sanskrit :-) it is hard to do from books, or from teachers
who don't > themselves have that proficiency, though. About the
'simplified' Sanskrit:  > if it is something like BASIC English, which
your wording implies; either > you learn the real thing, or it is another
thing that should be called by > another name.  > A brief clarification: 
The 'simple' Sanskrit taught by Hindu Seva Pratishtanam (Sanskrita
Bharati) in Bangalore is not exactly the same as C.K. Ogden's BASIC
English (which was supposed to rely on ca. 700 'primitive' lexemes to
construct an infinite number of BASIC sentences). Rather, the
simplification has involved a certain amount of lexical levelling (i.e.,
reduction of synonymous roots, etc.), simplification of the nominal
declensional system (instrumental and dative, I think, are replaced by
various prepositional constructions), the aorist has been thrown out (as
too complicated and cumbersome), and the past tense is usally expressed
using nominalized verbs (e.g., past passive and active participles in -ta
and -tavant), rather than imperfect or perfect finite conjugated verbs. 
There have been other simplifications and "register levellings" but I
can't remember them off the top of my head. It's still the same language
as "real" Sanskrit, inasmuch as "purified" Tamil is the same language as
"non-purified/Sanskritized" Tamil (although that may indeed not be an
appropriate analogy).

Adi Hastings
Depts. of Anthropology
   and Linguistics
University of Chicago

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list